I won’t deny that my friend Crystal has had a profound influence on my life. It would be next to impossible to be dear friends with a Rabbi and not have it impact your world view in some way ;-)
However…for those who know me – you know what I grew up in. A strange mishmash of traditions, sort of a Bapti-Costal melange that wanted to be Spirit-led but shunned anything over-emotional. The fact that we had multiple lay ministers who each had pastoral-type authority, very firm but opposing convictions, and vastly different world views really made things interesting. One of the ones I liked best (he paid attention to all the kids at church, in a totally non-creepy way, and I think we all remember him with fondness)…anyway, his pet doctrines were mostly misogynistic, completely patriarchal at their worst. It goes without saying that the church was very, very, very conservative on both a religious and political level. (One of my earlier memories involves a long, convoluted ‘prayer request’ for our nation, because Ronald Reagan was trying to lead us back from the brink the Carter Administration had led us to. Ah, church and state, you’ll never be divided! ;-) )
Anyway, I moved on to attend a variety of churches, the rest of these much more Pente-, not Bapti, Costal. I’ve known some fantastic people in these churches, and grown as a person and as a Christian while attending them. Lots of legalism and varieties of doctrines, because that seems to go hand in hand with certain limbs in this body of Christ. It just does, don’t look at me that way you guys!
Right now, my little family finds itself in a season of not-having-a-church-home. We’re finding fellowship and friends and just taking a sabbatical from anything particularly organized right now. I figure if Jesus could do 40 days in the wilderness to fast and pray and regroup, and He was God made manifest in flesh, well…we can have our time in the wilderness too. A lot of people in my life view this as a rejection of God, a turning away or a backsliding or just a ‘how dare you you were raised better than that don’t you know ANY better?!’. (You know what? I went to church a minimum of 5 times a week for my first almost 13 years of life. I’ve got a while before I wind down to the average church attendance record, okay?)
Ironically enough, during this season, I find myself thinking more about God and living my faith deliberately and consciously than I ever did while attending church 47000 times a year. It’s easy to think that just showing up, maybe volunteering in Sunday School, smiling and saying ‘Praise God’ while shaking hands with people in your own little microculture, just doing these things = living the life we should.
While we take this time away, I find myself being drawn more and more to the old paths. Like, the really old paths. Like, the paths that say Jesus-was-a-white-Republican-who-voted-one-way-and-we-ALL-know-what-way-that-was would never lead to. I find myself investigating who Jesus was, how He must have lived. After all, He didn’t come to my culture and drop in clothed in the latest fashions and spouting the latest emergent rhetoric. He didn’t have the to-the-minute hairstyle and a team of publicists and SEO optimizers and a slick oily smile.
He wore crude sandals and was covered in dust and didn’t even wear deo. (Seriously. Jesus had BO. He was *in all points* like we are. And since He lived umpteen years ago, guess what. No deo.) Thankfully, my desire to live-as-Jesus-lived hasn’t extended to ‘lack of personal hygiene in today’s terms’ :P What it has led to is an investigation of the traditions He lived. One of these is the Sabbath.
Yes, I know, his disciples ate grain on the Sabbath and He condemned the people who got all freaked by it and I get that. That’s why I woke up this morning and turned on a light and made coffee and baked bread and why I’ll spend today doing things that bless my family, even if they involve what some would term work.
But it’s also why I’m making an effort to set one day a week aside… why today we’ll spend time with The Boy discussing God and what He means to us. (The Boy often breaks out into little songs he makes up, about how much God loves him and he loves God. He says Jesus is his best friend. Who am I to argue with that?!) This is the day during the week when I slow down, when I contemplate, when I practice Selah. That pause, that time for reflection, the being still and knowing.
Some people view this as just another branch on the legalism tree, I know. The difference here? No one is making me do this. There’s no organized hierachy, no rules I have to live up to, no specific level of giving or going, no dress code.
This is just the day I set aside to try to live Shabbat Shalom – the peace of the Sabbath.
So to all my friends – even to all of you who think I’ve finally gone off the deep end…Shabbat Shalom. May you find time today for peace.